Ancient traditions, beliefs of Novruz

20 March 2018 13:00 (UTC+04:00)

By Laman Ismayilova

Every year on March 20-21, Azerbaijan celebrates ancient and beloved holiday Novruz.

The holiday falls on the spring equinox.

Many traditions and believes are associated with one of the most cherished holiday.

“Khidir Ilyas” (the symbol of fertility), “Kos-Kosa”- an entertaining game, which symbolizes the incoming of spring and fortunetelling are among them.

Four Wednesdays before Novruz are devoted to one of the four elements: Water, Fire, Wind and Earth. Each Tuesday has its own traditions.

Water Tuesday

According to the folk belief, water purifies and stirs everything. Water is symbolic of purity, renewal and transformation. 

On Water Tuesday, young girls go to the river and other sources to bring some water. A drinking bowl with pure water is then placed on a tray or "khoncha".

Family members splash water on themselves before going to bed on New Year's Eve.

Fire Tuesday

Fire has been an important part of country’s history and religion. Azerbaijan, also known as the Land of Fire, has very interesting traditions associated with this element.

People light bonfires and jump over them on Novruz. They believe they are released from all unhappiness. Azerbaijani people believe that when they do this they recover from their illnesses and get free of the troubles that happened that year. 

Despite of the age and gender, jump seven times over one, or once over seven bonfires and say: “Give me your redness and take my yellowness.”

The fire is never put out by water; it burns down by itself. Young boys and girls take the ash of the fire and throw it far from the house. It is explained as follows: all the mischance of the family is thrown away with the ash.

Wind Tuesday

Wind Tuesday is the third of four Tuesdays in the run-up to the Novruz spring holiday.

Traditionally, women clean their homes and expose woolen household items such as pillows to the air. When the night falls, they make bonfire, cook milky rice, and put mostly dry fruits on the table. 

Earth Tuesday

Then comes Earth Tuesday marking the revival of the earth. On the fourth Tuesday, people jump over running water and make wish. The same day Azerbaijani women sprout wheat, paying tribute to the awakening nature.

Tradition holds that the houses are visited by the spirits of their ancestors on the last days of the year. People do house cleaning, plant trees, paint eggs, make national pastries such as shekerbura, pakhlava, shorgoghal and a great variety of national cuisine.

A few weeks before Novruz, women take wheat seeds, water them and sing the traditional song “Samani, protect me, and I will grow you every year.”

Children knock on doors to ask for treats, every person buys at least one set of new clothes. 

During Novruz people give each other a holiday portion called "Novruz payi". Holiday cakes, samani and candles are put on a tray and given to the neighbors and friends. 

One of the golden rules of the holiday is that people should not curse, lie, swear or gossip. 

Everyone should celebrate Novruz at their own home with family members.


Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova

Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz